This semester I had the privilege of teaching three communication courses. Two of them ended today. Very bittersweet.
After teaching for seven years I’ve noticed a distinct pattern in my classes.
First is the understanding phase. We learn each other’s names. They are my teaching style and my knowledge of the subject. I gauge their enthusiasm and learning styles. I make it a point during this phase to model what I want them to do throughout the semester. I show them what a presentation should look, sound, and feel like. I remind them that everything we do in class has meaning. They learn to ask themselves “What’s the point?”
Next is the creating and critiquing phase. The students develop team and individual presentations. I critique them along the way and often have to do some additional modeling to clarify what the class objectives are. My critiques are hard. I notice the frustration when a student feels like they’ve given a great presentation and I point out a flaw. Eye contact could have been better. You looked at your notes too much. Good presentation but lacked dynamism.
Finally comes the dismissal. At the end of the semester I let them go. No more modeling. No more practice. No more note taking. They now move forward with what I have taught them and what they’ve understood. The present display of their communication skills is reflective of our past experiences together.
The disciples learning process under Christ was very similar.
Understanding. He called them. He learned their names. He learned their personalities. He then modeled for them what He wanted them to do. A lesson in every conversation He had. Insight to be gained from every place He visited. They watched as He taught, preached and healed. Jesus made sure to quiz them every now and then to test their comprehension.
Creating and critiquing. During one of their practicums He sent them out on a team assignment. Minister in pairs and come back with a report. They returned feeling like they were the head of the class. His critique is hard. He tells them they’ve missed the point. More modeling. More practicums. More note taking.
Dismissal. At the end of it all He leaves them. They now have to go forward with what Jesus has taught them and what they’ve understood. Jesus does not model in person. The way He lived His life is their model. They don’t hear His voice in critique but they know what He would have said. They cannot take insight from His new lectures. His former teachings are the source of their notes.
How they minister from this point forward is reflective of their past experiences with their teacher.